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The Challenges of Theorising about the Global South A View from an African Perspective

Authors:

Abstract

Following the huge critique against dominant theories of planning and urban change adopted from the North, theorising about the south has come into vogue in recent years, with a wide-range of passionate debates. The book 'Theory from the South', written by Jean Comaroff and John Comaroff, has stimulated much fan-fare and added more momentum to the debates about theory of the south. Using the reaction towards this book, in part, and the many writings on the subject, e.g. Jenny Robinson, etc., this paper seeks to engage the challenging issues and debates involved in the endeavour to develop theories of the south. The paper is conceptually situated within a post-colonial perspective and looks at attempts at theorising about the south by drawing examples from South Africa and the developing world in general. The exploration of these issues seeks to draw out lessons for the discipline of urban studies, in general, but planning in particular.
59© Africa Institute of South Africa AFRICA INSIGHT Vol 45(2) – September 2015
The Challenges of Theorising
about the Global South
A View from an African Perspective
Mfaniseni Fana Sihlongonyane
Associate Professor, School of Architecture and Planning, Univer sity of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Abstract
Following the huge critique against dominant theories of planning and urban change adopted
from the North, theorising about the south has come into vogue in recent years, with a wide-
range of passionate debates. The book 'Theory from the South', written by Jean Comaroff
and John Comaroff, has stimulated much fan-fare and added more momentum to the debates
about theory of the south. Using the reaction towards this book, in part, and the many
writings on the subject, e.g. Jenny Robinson, etc., this paper seeks to engage the challenging
issues and debates involved in the endeavour to develop theories of the south. The paper is
conceptually situated within a post-colonial perspective and looks at attempts at theorising
about the south by drawing examples from South Africa and the developing world in general.
The exploration of these issues seeks to draw out lessons for the discipline of urban studies,
in general, but planning in particular.
Introduction
Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that
works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is ex-
tremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core
belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.
Frantz Fanon, ‘Black Skin, White Masks’
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The liberal idea of tolerance is more and more a kind of intolerance. What it means is, ‘Leave me alone;
don’t harass me; I’m intolerant towards your over-proximity.
Slavoj Žižek
Until the Lions produce their own historian, the story of the hunt will glorify the Hunter.
Chinua Achebe
The attainment of African independence, and recently the democratisation of many African
countries, as well as South Africa in the 1990s, has meant, at least suggested, that the space for
self-determination is now open as articulated in the Charter of the United Nations (Art.1, para. 2
and Art. 55). This democratic space has, in theory, impelled the sense that ‘the subaltern can now
speak’ against the dominant geopolitical determinations of urban theory, in order to recognise
‘subjugated knowledge’ and do away with European epistemic violence and its colonial ramifi-
cations. More specifically, 27 April 1994 marked the moment when the leaders of South Africa’s
anti-apartheid movements entered the corridors of political power, with the promise to write a
new chapter in South Africa’s political history. The euphoria of the political transition, at least in
the climate of the political honeymoon period, brought a momentous push to write and redefine
Africanness, in the spirit of what was seen as reclamation of African knowledge.1
However, this process of reclamation has been highly challenging for reasons that go back to
the colonial history of the continent, and cumulatively, for reasons that derive from the location,
positionality and representation of the writers about the continent. At the centre of the debates is
the history(s) of the Global South and, more specifically of Africa. It is a history that is enamoured
with challenging issues of ethnocentrism, universalism, disjuncture, denialism and ambivalence.
This paper therefore seeks to discuss these issues by looking at the African history from the liberal,
neo-Marxian and constructivist perspectives. Central to the discussion is the notion of the Global
South and its ramifications for the theor y on the south. The paper: explores the issues through a
succinct overview of the African experience of the pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial periods
of knowledge production; and presents some critical reflections, with special reference to urban
development and to the discipline of urban planning.
Location, Positionality and Representation
One of the fundamental challenges of theorising about the Global South arises from the issue of
location, positionality and representation. Anthias states: ‘The focus on location recognizes the im-
portance of context, the situated nature of claims and attributions and their production in complex
and shifting locales ...’; and ‘positionality relates to the space at the intersection of structure (as
social position/social effects) and agency (as social positioning/meaning and practice)’.2 The issues
of location and positionality are significant in giving legitimacy to the voice of the writer. For a
long time, the voices from the Global North have tended to dominate theory and the Global South
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has been the recipient of theory. Part of this trend derives from the social construction of the north
and the south. Irrespective of conceptual ambiguity in terms of terminology: the Global North is
generally ‘synonymous with technologically advanced rich post–industrial countries of the first
world … that is, people who are affluent with high levels of income, employment and social secu-
rity’; the Global South refers to ‘the people largely in sub-Saharan Africa, South and Central Asia,
Latin America, and Central America, who live in extreme poverty without access to basic needs like
food, shelter, water, sanitation, education, and health care’.3
Otherness of Black People
This dualistic conception has been central to the determination of reception, legitimacy and repre-
sentation of the Global South. The Global South is part of a long history of Othering black people
in the European academy. A reflection on African history since the pre-colonial period shows that
much of its history has been written by scholars from a European liberal tradition. The liberal
tradition spans the period from the Reformation Movement in the sixteenth century to today. Early
liberal thinkers like Immanuel Kant, J.S. Mill, and T.H. Green believed in literary tradition. Through
the pursuit of positivist methods, literal tradition and evolutionary social theor y, societies with no
or less literary traditions were written off from history.
History was approached from an ethnocentric point of view. Ethnocentrism is the tendency to
theorise about key principles or mechanisms of international order, mainly from a Western per-
spective, using Western ideas, culture, politics, historical experiences and contemporary practice.
Foucault observed that, in defining himself, ‘Western man found it necessar y to link himself to the
African as his negation … Africa was a text closed in upon itself, a blank space in a visible page’.4
For Miller, the idea of Africa was inconceivable then5 and so Baudelaire, Conrad, Charles de Brosses
and Gobineau all uttered the same discourse of negation.6
Consequently, the pre-colonial African history is presented as non-historical. In other words,
there is no philosophical record, no measure, no reference and no African planning theory. As
such, the ‘traditional intellectuals/traditional elites’ that comprised priests, kings, chiefs, magi-
cians, praise poets, and merchants, who produced mainly oral knowledge, which drove precolonial
African societies, was pushed into the barbarian margins under colonial modernity.7 They were
seen as the ‘Black Other … and if they were people without history, obviously they could not be
in the business of making nations. No history, no nations’.8 We are all familiar with Hugh Trevor-
Roper’s statement, ‘There is only the history of Europeans in Africa. The rest is darkness’.9
The undertaking of the colonial project from the early 1800s in Africa ser ved only to extend
ethnocentricism.10 Foucault makes it clear that the colonising situation was not indispensable
to ethnology. Western ethnocentrics tended to re-interpret the world and all its socio-economic,
political and cultural processes from a Euro-American perspective. This epistemic re-orientation
was widely practice in a number of disciplines (world history in particular).11 Miller, for example,
reflects the bipolar opposition between black/white, idolatry/religion, nullity/presence as the first
archaeology of Africanist projection.12 The African, like the Oriental, was perceived as exotic, intel-
lectually retarded, emotionally sensual, governmentally despotic, culturally passive, and politically
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penetrable.13 The notable improvement is that: while this was a negative mark of identity, it was a
visible mark, unlike the situation of non-existence in precolonial times.
The implication of this was that the Eurocentric liberal version of human development was a
key ideological potency underpinning white supremacy. Eurocentric liberalism served to legitimise
Euro-North American domination by claiming that it (also known as modernity, technological
progress, the free market) advances the best interests of all humanity. ‘The repression fell, above
all, over the modes of knowing, of producing knowledge, of producing perspectives, images and
systems of images, symbols, modes of signification, over the resources, patterns, and instruments
of formalised and objectivised expression, intellectual or visual’.14 When necessary, this belief in
Euro-North American cultural superiority was reinforced by brute force.15 This approach led to
the creation of a false universalism in development theory and in urban planning in particular.
Universalism is the tendency to view Western practices as a universal standard, while non-Western
practices are viewed as particularisms or aberrations or something that is in some way inferior.
Carruthers laments the fact that European intellectuals, through colonial practices, began
to ‘exercise dominance over African knowledge’. He identifies the education of Europeanised
African intellectuals as the final phase of the white supremacist project.16 As Frantz Fanon noted,
‘Colonialism was not simply satisfied with merely holding the colonized people in its grip and
emptying “the native’s brain of all form and content”’. Rather, ‘By a kind of perverse logic, it turns
to the past of the oppressed people, and distorts, disfigures and destroys it’ (sic).17 This led, ac-
cording to Lander, to a naturalisation of liberal values and a devaluation of knowledge produced
outside the prescribed scientific system.18 So Africa’s multiple heritages were reduced to a black
Africa signified by negativity; and the future theorisation of Africa has unfortunately operated on
the basis of this condescending conceptual framework. Such claims to hegemony were obviously
underpinned by logocentricism that ignored other forms of sources of information such as oral
tradition, art, sculpture, painting, etc., which were dominant on the continent.
Europe’s successful placing of itself at the centre of history caused universities outside Europe
to teach from a Eurocentric point of view and include predominantly ‘northern’ thinkers in their
academic canons. Consequently, early African intellectuals operated within the colonial episteme.
Ndlovu-Gatsheni notes that:
African intellectuals forming part of early educated elites, such as evangelists, bishops, reverends, doc-
tors and teachers, e.g. Tiyo Soga in South Africa and the leading cultural nationalist Edward Wilmot
Blyden … as well as the well-known representative of this group, Blaise Diane, believed in the redemp-
tive potential of the colonial system of assimilation and dreamt of the extension of French citizenship to
the whole of French West Africa.19
One of the achievements of imperial reasoning was the affirmation of the European or white,
Christian, male, heterosexual, American as a superior identity, by constructing inferior identities
and expelling them to the outside of the normative sphere of the real.20
The lack of an African epistemology in the academy portrayed the image that Africans were
unable to speak for themselves. From this deficit model came the cultural deprivation hypothesis,
which presumed that, due to inadequate exposure to the right culture (i.e. Eurocentric values,
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norms, customs and lifestyles), Blacks were indeed culturally deprived or disadvantaged and re-
quired cultural enrichment. Implicit in the concept of cultural deprivation is the notion that the
dominant White middle-class culture establishes and sets the normative standard. Henceforth,
Eurocentricism framed social norms by setting expectations for the role of race, gender, sex and
other types of identity. Thus any behaviours, values, and lifestyles that differed from the Euro-
American norm were seen as deficient and deviant. This created the assumption that knowledge
production originates from the colonial centre in the collective memory of the colonised mind in
the developing world.
This knave assumption was followed by a civilising mission to lift the benighted ‘natives’ out
of backwardness to a new status of ‘civilized English or French Africans’ especially at the height
of colonial rule.21 Within Eurocentric thinking, development and modernisation were conflated into
one thing. The lack of Western modernisation was therefore equated with the lack of develop-
ment.22 Akatch points out that the African region provided ideal experimental grounds for new
colonial centres, with urban planning processes literally exported as part of the cultural baggage
of imperialism.23 Development theory and urban models, e.g. theses of the Chicago School, were
largely transferred from Europe and overlaid on African traditional systems that were arguably
unprepared for the new systems of housing, standards, public services and development control
procedures that were characterised by top down approaches.24
This meant that Eurocentric categories, such as race, continued to structure relations among
individuals in both the north and the south. Modernity, progress and universal history were identi-
fied as inherently European in terms of a self-contained moral and economic progress. Invariably,
planning became the subject of epistemic determinism – the idea that everything that happens or
exists is caused by antecedent conditions/dictates of European epistemology.25 Therefore, urban
planning in Sub-Saharan Africa was largely a modernist technocratic field of practice for highly-
trained and sophisticated professionals with less inclusive rules, regulations and standards.26
Counter-hegemonic Africanist Epistemologies
A number of counter-hegemonic Africanist arguments, both continental and diasporic (such as
Garveyism, Ethopianism, Negritude, Pan-Africanism and Afrocentricity), have emerged since the
1800s with different criticisms regarding Eurocentricism. These counter-hegemonic Africanist po-
sitions were normally Pan-Africanist or inspired by Pan-Africanism; but just like Pan-Africanism,
they represent the complexities of black political and intellectual thought over the past 200 years.
Their arguments change, according to whether the focus is on politics, ideology, organisations
or culture. So, they reflect a range of political views that have been mutating, intertwining and
cross-referencing each other, but in the main, they have sought to challenge the dominance of
Eurocentric epistemology and its coloniality of power (the detail about which is not the subject of
this paper).
The positionalities of the Pan-Africanists, in general, have been criticised for falling into the
trap of essentialising black identity. Essentialising has led to the projection of the social/historical
representation of African history/reality as rigid and/or pure. For Mbembe, thinking about Africa
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in an essentialised way relies on the narratives and actions of the coloniser, and, in doing so,
reifies Africa and essentialises Africans within the framework of European myth.27 Fanon argued,
‘Seeking to stick to tradition or reviving neglected traditions is not only going against history, but
against one’s people. When a people support an armed or even a political struggle, … tradition
changes meaning’.28 For Negri and Hardt, ‘The risk is that affirming identity and tradition, whether
dedicated to past suffering or past glories, creates a static position, even in its opposition to moder-
nity’s domination’.29
The post-colonial period that started in the 1960s witnessed the emergence of the African in-
dependent state authority. Many African leaders, whether advocates of Western-style capitalism
(e.g. Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya and General Mobutu Sese Seko (1930-1998) of Zaire (previously the
Belgian Congo)), or supporters of an ‘African form of socialism’ (e.g. Julius Nyerere (b. 1922) of
Tanzania, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, and Sekou Toure (1922-1984) of Guinea), did not depart
from the epistemic parameters of the modernist paradigm. Modernisation was a universal project.
Modern Africa was in large measure a product of the colonial experience.30 This is reflected in the
planning legislation that dates back to the colonial era.31 This situation was attributed, to a large
extent, to the nature of the professional training of planners, which is still undertaken within a
context of strong architectural and civic design traditions and underpinned by the political, social
and cultural values of the North.32 But also, it is due to the fact that the planning curricula are
biased in favour of European models and experiences.33 Moreover, teaching has been largely pre-
sented from the vantage point of the developed world; and so planning practice itself is rooted in
European ideological visions about the nature of problems and their solutions.34
Within modernism, urban planning represented a twentieth-century move towards establish-
ing something stable, structured and rationalised within what had become a world of chaos, flux
and change.35 Notable modernist projects (such as Ujaama in Tanzania, the Aswam dam in Egypt,
Black townships in South Africa, and Volta dam in Ghana) typify some of the failures of modernist
imaginations. In many countries, this approach resulted in a waste of resources, social inequalities,
political instability and debt. In South Africa specifically, the modernist project of apartheid was
coupled with an affirmation of white nationalism, which advocated a national identity for white
people asserting white separatism and white supremacism.36 African countries, therefore, have
maintained the old practices of town planning, from the colonial masters, whether Francophone
or Anglophone in general (or a mix of these, depending on the colonial experience of the country
e.g. Cameroon and Namibia). This meant that Western political institutions, values and technology
were sustained – at least in the cities – to promote European civilisation.
The colonial system has been contested by neo-Marxist dependency theorists. Dependency
theory links colonisation by the rich north to the ultimate impoverishment of the South. The World
Systems Theory (WST) scholars within dependency paradigm (like Immanuel Wallerstein, Andre
Gunder Frank, Samir Amin, Giovanni Arrighi and Walter Rodney) believed that the rich North
has become the ‘core’ in international politics and economy, by extracting raw materials from
their colonies over centuries. Through such exploitation, the erstwhile colonies of the south have
become the ‘periphery’ in the international system. They have argued that the core continues to
dominate the periphery, because of its advantageous position in the present international order of
capitalist knowledge production.
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The general challenge with neo-Marxist theories, though, is that the international order is privi-
leged over the local. Notably, much of the criticism against the apartheid system came from neo-
Marxist perspectives, with inspiration from the international works of ‘cultural materialists such
as Eric Hobsbawm, George Rudé, Gareth Stedman Jones and Edward Thompson’.37 By and large,
this critical work has suffered from the syndrome of the solidarity critique, where scholars back
away from dissonance, dissent and diversion from the normative ways of theorising, because the
dominant ways of writing are patronising. In this respect, Maylan obser ved, ‘Much of the (South
African) historiography was “afrocentric” focusing on the black experience’; the focus was urban
racial segregation and seeking to understand the role that material forces have played in the evolu-
tion of urban segregation.38 While this literature was highly critical of apartheid, its knowledge
production was occurring within the patronage of the neo-Marxist international scholarship.
The racism fostered by apartheid also generated a relentless obsession with race in the theorisa-
tion of urban change and its politics. The obsession with race has often generated anxiety amongst
scholars producing praxis of instant blackness among writers. Instant blackness is the tendency to
adopt a pro-black position or façade, while asserting or expressing values or interest that support
the status quo. Instant blackness affects everyone (black and white) and especially the writer who
wants to be on the ‘right side of history’. For the writer of theory from the south, this is an impor-
tant consideration, since it is central to issues of positionality. Sometimes it becomes a scheme
for imagining dynamics of change when theorising relationships, while the actual practices of the
writer are totally divorced from the spirit of the writing. Instant blackness, therefore, can be a
form of pragmatism, but it can also be a form of self-censorship, as well as a scheme for peddling
unrewarding rhetoric.
In their seminal paper, Parnell and Mabin have reprimanded what they saw as ‘racial fetishism’
with an emphasis on South African uniqueness, which concealed global commonalities in urban
evolution and reduced the possibility for comparative research. In their view, studying ‘urban
society does not begin with race, rather it reflects the creation of race as part of the intricate de-
velopment of modern society’.39 In this respect, Parnell has advocated for theorising African urban
spaces with reference to what she terms ‘conventional urban theory’, in order to open up space for
(post)modern urbanism.40 However, neither the neo-Marxist (inspired) literature nor the Maylan’s
literature review as well as the Parnell and Mabin’s critiques makes reference to any African episte-
mologies, e.g. the theory of Black consciousness.
While these insightful appraisals of South African literature are useful and have facilitated
the opening of new areas of research,41 the silence about and lack of reference to African theories
signifies the long-standing stereotype of South African writing viewing itself to be culturally and
historically linked to Europe. Urging writers to turn and seek inspiration from ‘conventional urban
theory’ does not display a commitment to the recovery of subaltern or ‘indigenous’ histories and
knowledge systems. In a way, the ‘non-West … now the global south’ is presented ‘primarily as a
place of parochial wisdom … of unprocessed data … as reservoirs of raw fact: of the historical,
natural, and ethnographic minutiae from which Euro-modernity might fashion its testable theories
and transcendent truths’.42
Also, while race, class and gender have been considerably discussed in neo-marxist writing
and critiques, as notable in many ideologies of African leaders (e.g. Kenneth Kaunda’s African
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humanism, Kwame Nkrumah’s ‘consciencism’, Nyerere’s African socialism and Nelson Mandela’s
reconciliation), the issue of culture has been side-lined through the presumption of a universal cul-
ture. Yet, in many African societies, the cultural functions of age, clan, status, family, gender and
language play a significant role in the brokerage of power and allocation of social space especially
within the dynamics of capitalist accumulation. One of the most significant neglect in culture is
the use of English and French as the main languages for enforcement of imperial intellectualism.
Since ‘language is not an innocent reflection of how we think (as) … the terms we use control our
perceptions, shape our understanding, and lead us to particular proposals for improvement’, the
marginalisation and downplaying of the significance of African languages has deprived the profes-
sionals in planning/urban studies of the richness for African imaginations of space, people and life
in general.43
Even though planning/urban studies journals encourage a greater contribution from scholars
working in and on poorer cities and beyond the academic networks of the US and the EU,44 such
a call serves as a function of repressive tolerance when English or French (as the dominant lan-
guages) are used as a form of power for the social reproduction of thought by the global north. This
is exacerbated by the fact that high-impact international journals are biased against work that is
not embedded in dominant European theoretical frameworks.45 Whilst English or French cannot be
under-estimated as linguistic vehicles for conveying the challenging realities of the global south,
their hegemonic position negate the rise of other languages.
The unfortunate reality in the planning discipline is that the beliefs, experiences and episte-
mologies of white people are viewed as the norm, by which others are compared, measured, as-
sessed and evaluated.46 For example, the dominant modes of thinking and practice tend to equate
incompetence in English or French with dullness, inability or failure. It is not surprising that black
students at all levels are often placed in remedial courses to ‘catch up’ or ‘live up’ to a norm for
which the model is their white classmates.47 In other words, difference in language means deficit
or deficiency. Therefore, the academy sustains notions of normality, where racialised and cultural
‘others’ are viewed as negative, due to the ingrained systems of knowing. Ironically, the glaring in-
competence of most professionals in the planning/urban studies field resides in African languages;
however it is hardly recognised as a serious concern for facilitating the development of theory
about the South. In other words, race is ‘the norm against which others are judged, but also a
powerful, if sometimes unconscious, justification for the status quo’.48
African History under Neoliberal Thinking
The 1980s saw the rise of neo-liberal thinkers due to the huge debts generated on the continent
through the misadventures of the modernist project and the corruption, graft and poor leader-
ship attributed to many African presidents. The debt situation led to the imposition or adoption of
structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) in African countries – principally administered by the
IMF and the World Bank. Neo-liberal thinkers advocated for less state intervention, privatisation,
open economy, and the control of unions.49 As was seen elsewhere in Africa, the austerity demands
led to the adoption of neoliberal policies in the form of Growth, Employment and Reconstruction
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(GEAR) in 1995 in South Africa.50 Subsequently, the economic policy instruments and their ‘spatial
imagination’ adopted for urban transformation commensurate with GEAR included city improve-
ment districts, urban development zones, urban precincts, cultural quarters, and export processing
zones.
These policy instruments are often adopted in the quest to attain a world class city status or
embracing the global city image. The transformation into a ‘world class city’ status is important
for promotion of urban growth for capitalist development51 and it is functional to a neoliberal
agenda of urban governance.52 Indeed, many developers, planners, architects and politicians and
a powerful industry of marketing and image-making have promoted the Western city as an ob-
ject of desire in South Africa.53 However, there are problems with the world class city thesis. The
literature on world class cities is too dependent upon a theoretically globalist perspective based
on major Western cities.54 Within this theoretical frame, Robinson observed that the Global North
is often associated with the production of theor y,55 while the Global South is associated with de-
velopmental interventions.56 Robinson in Schuermans argues that urban theory development has
been hampered for too long by the assumed dichotomy between innovative ‘global cities’ in rich
countries and imitative Third World cities in poor countries.57 This has led to silence regarding
smaller cities, towns, villages and other settlement forms because the world city thesis seems to
reinforce the modernist notion that innovations take place in European cities and that other areas
are, by definition, traditional, primitive and un-dynamic.58
The pursuit of world class city status has seen the emergence and intensification of urban frag-
mentation. In Johannesburg, the pursuit of world class status has led to the emergence of urban
development in which leisure and pleasure are seen as key drivers of the experience economy.59
In the experience economy, the role of the cultural and the creative sector is significant. However,
the neo-liberal drive to privatise all forms of art and urban spaces has resulted in the endless
commodification of culture.60 Narratives about the South African struggle memory are now used
instrumentally in marketing and branding places into spectacles of leisure and entertainment, e.g.
Newtown, Maboneng, and Ghandi Square are reconstructed using struggle and indigenous memo-
ries.61 Even black townships are included in the commercialisation of politics as part of signified
memorable landscapes of the str uggle.62 The consumption of these places has marked a shift in
which African histor y is no longer ‘a bad one’, as in the past, but ‘a consumable one’ – a selectively
consumable one at that.
However, many of these developments where world class ambitions are expressed exemplify
cultural disjunctures within the localities in which they are developed. For example, much refer-
ence to African food (also clothing and architecture) is made, with no distinction made between
Zulu, Pedi or Swazi food heritage, as these are summarily taken to be African. However, Italian,
English and Greek food heritage is distinguished with respect to their particular heritage identi-
ties. Apparently, it has simply become politically incorrect to cite ethnic heritage, especially in the
spaces of hybrid subjectivity (such as Newtown, Maboneng, etc.), even when strong references are
made to ethnic registers of knowledge, artefact and aesthetics. Such reductionism is deleterious
to ethnic heritage and the creation of a ‘world class city’ thesis appears to be a modern extension
of Hugh Trevor-Roper’s statement, ‘There is only the history of Europeans in Africa. The rest is
dark n e s s ’.63
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The challenge here is not that African heritage is now acceptable in the discourse of planning
or urban studies, at least for consumption, but rather that its acceptance is on bleak terms, created
by the cunning forces of the market. While this perennist approach to urban development forms
part of an encouraged approach to urban regeneration, its utility (consumption) of heritage without
focusing on the significance of historical heritage is problematic. Such perennist re-interpretations,
while valid in their own right, advance the cultural history of the rich at the expense of the poor
and serve the interests of consumers who are largely rich and white people, to the disadvantage
of the poor. The rise of spaces for leisure and entertainment therefore seem to herald a new age
in which the quest for cultural inclusiveness reduces indigenous African ethnic heritage to con-
sumables valued as ‘shallow therapeutic devices’.64 This thesis is expressive of denial or the ‘lack
of acknowledgement of the agency of non-western actors’,65 and it buttresses, yet again, the invis-
ibility of African heritage in history.
Concluding Remarks
This practice follows on the long tradition of denial and/or ambivalence in the European archive,
where African history/histories were seen to: lack literature from 1500 to 1700; lack history in
the 1800s; lack development in the 1900s; and lack democracy from 1900-2000.66 O’Shaughnessy
points out that this is a function of a hegemonic urban view that invariably focuses on certain
visible economic distinctions that overlook alternate, often invisible patterns, which make ‘other’
cities work in alternative ways.67 Therefore, the need to produce knowledge based on Africa’s own
epistemological, ontological, methodological and axiological terms is long overdue.
There are scholars that are leading this crusade by pointing at alternative ways of writing ap-
proaches, focus, positionality and representation. On the aspect of approach, Mbembe urges that
the project of theorising is to ‘rethink Africa, or for that matter to write the world from Africa or to
write Africa into contemporary social theory’.68 He argues that the project should involve a ‘search
for alternative acts of thinking, exploring other ways of speaking, taking seriously the visual,
sounds, the senses and thinking as philosophically and historically as possible about the pre-
cariousness of life in Africa, the intensive surfaces of power and the various ways in which events
coexist with accidents’.69 Specifically on South Africa, Mbembe and Nuttall opine that scholars
should start the theoretical collection with an energetic appeal for analyses of South African cities
to open themselves up to the ‘multiple elsewheres’ that shape the cities in practice.70 They encour-
age scholars to look at dynamics that intersect with a spatial analysis of city life as shaped by
flows, networking and interactions (of people, resources, information) with many different places,
through multiple rhythms and diverse imaginative experiences.71
Mungwini argues for a process of building a polycentric global epistemology.72 As defined by
Shohat and Stan (in Maffie), ‘polycentricism is not about “touchy-feely” sensitivity towards other
groups; it is about dispersing power, about empowering the disempowered, about transforming
subordinating institutions and discourses. It demands changes not just in images but in power
relat ions’.73 It recognises that African epistemology is not synonymous with the inferior Other of
the West, nor is it an imitation of its Western counterpart: it is defined by its own difference, free
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from all the hierocratic reasoning and ranking implications implied in history.74 It also describes
an attitude of openness that recognises the independence and the right of other cultures to their
conception of reality.75 For Nicolescu, this forms a trans-disciplinary approach that starts with a re-
jection of all dogma, ideology and closed systems of thought,76 moving away from that knowledge
about Africa which ‘propagates Western culture which perpetuates an inferiority complex’ and
‘disrupts [African] unity’.77
Mignolo calls for honest scholarship, one that acknowledges that the academic world has been
built on a Western premise, filtered through a colonial matrix of power, conceptualised through
a racial system of social classification and compartmentalised through remapping the world into
first, second and third worlds.78 Thus, he calls for ‘epistemic disobedience’ within global knowledge
production and social development. Epistemic disobedience has two positions: one is de-western-
isation, which is described as a counter-movement within a capitalist economy, where the rules
are no longer defined by Western players and institutions; and the other is a de-colonial position,
which includes various ideological streams having in common that ... they are based on a definitive
rejection of accepting the role as ‘the other’, and a re- orientation of Euro-centred modernity.79
On focus areas of research, Robinson draws attention to the fact that modernity and tradition
are mutually interdependent and that what has been perceived as primitivity is an essential part of
urban life all over the world.80 She argues that it is not global cities or third world cities that should
be central to academic analysis and policy recommendations, but what she calls ‘ordinary’ cities,
in all their complexity, diversity and peculiarity.81 Thus, she calls for theoretical repertoires that are
appreciative of the diversity of cities. She suggests, ‘Any research on cities needs to be undertaken
in a spirit of attentiveness to the possibility that cities elsewhere might perhaps be different and
shed stronger light on the processes being studied’.82 This is reiterated by Obarrio, who argues that
theorising, ‘alludes to a global order that is a multiple-entry scheme, a variegated, textured can-
vass, where “global” “regional” and “local” are not scales, but rather various interrelated entangled
dimensions and folds’.83
Robinson and Parnell point at a need to be ‘provincialized’, in order to create intellectual space
for alternative ideas that may be more relevant to cities, where the majority of the world’s urban
population now resides.84 They argue for documenting urban change on hitherto under-researched
cities, understanding the nature of the local government, and ‘learning from practice how to trans-
form the theoretical canon to ensure 21st-century relevance’.85 Robinson also suggests an analyti-
cal device of the ‘urban now’ developed from Walter Benjamin’s analysis of modernity. ‘The urban
“now” involves potentially blasting elements from cities and places distant in both time and space,
with leaps of explanation and connection reaching back in time as well as across to other places, in
order to constitute the immanent interpretive space–times of globalising urbanism.’86 She argues,
‘Framing the urban through Benjamin’s idea of “now-time” indicates the need for a theoretical
practice which can attend to a multiplicity of temporalities, dispersed referents and circulating
practices, which can work across a diversity of urban contexts, drawing insights into a multiplicity
(an infinity?) of coexisting conceptualisations’.87
Ngugi wa Thiong’o has argued, ‘The resurrection of African memory calls for a fundamen-
tal change of attitude towards African languages’.88 There is therefore a need for concerted and
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innovative effort to develop and promote South Africa’s indigenous languages. This should form
part of African affirmations in ensuring that indigenous languages are part of our academic dis-
course beyond the mere symbolism that is currently at play at most of our universities. Mungwini
stresses the compelling need for consciously championing partisan knowledge centred on and
devoted to the interests of African peoples, based on an Afrocentric orientation to, and vision of,
knowledge production.89
There is also literature focusing attention on the phenomenon of rural-urban dynamics in
mega-cities and cities from the south. This literature recognises that rural-urban relationships are
primary arenas in which social change is shaped, expressed and powerfully experienced,90 espe-
cially in the cities of the developing world. This literature argues that the intertwining of environ-
mental, societal and cultural dynamics, as well as the global and local and rural and urban, should
constitute the main theoretical focus of research.
Some of the research has already focused on detailed, specific, molecular urban practices, and
the co-constitutive nature of plural subjectivities and harsh living conditions amidst widespread
informality in cities of the developing world.91 Amongst them, AbdouMaliq Simone has documented
and theorised the complexities of life in the cities of the developing world – largely in Africa – while
looking at the actions, relations, sentiments and opportunities across a range of informal influ-
ences.92 Bayat has looked at the issue of complex governmentality bearing non-ideological and
apolitical practices among the poor in cities.93 Ananya Roy also delves into the urban condition of
the developing world and argues that informality has become a dominant mode of urbanisation in
much of the global South.94 She argues that the distinctive experiences of the cities of the global
South can generate productive and provocative theoretical frameworks for all cities.95
On representation, one of the most astounding theoretical articulations comes from Jean and
John Comaroff in their book, Theory from the South.96 They boldly argue that ‘Euro-America is
evolving toward Africa’. In the process, they affirm, ‘It is the Global South that affords privileged
insight into the workings of the world at large’.97 In other words, ‘The metropolitan centres that
once represented, for much of the world, the imagined future of modernity – London and Paris in
the nineteenth century, New York and Tokyo in the twentieth – are now relics of the past’. They
argue, ‘These model cities of the modern era now appear as anachronistic bygones, while places
like São Paulo and Bombay seem to presage what is to come’.98 This is substantiated by the fact
that 27 of the 33 urban agglomerations predicted to dominate the global cityscape within 10 years
will be located in the least developed countries.99 This phenomenon of urban agglomeration in the
South stands to sway the focus, density and volume of urban change to the South.
However, the positionality of the Comaroffs has been questioned. The question arose whether
they are theorising from the south, that is: they are part of the geographical South or are they theo-
rising about the south, in which case they are not part of the Global South. As James Fergusson
puts it when citing a colleague, ‘Oh great – we finally get theory from the South and it turns out
to be two white people from the University of Chicago’. Instructively, the Comaroffs have rebutted
the accusation by challenging the north-south divide, arguing, ‘The Global South” cannot be de-
fined, a priori, in substantive terms, while it bespeaks a relation, not a thing in or for itself – even
though it can, and has, taken on material substance along certain spatiotemporal axes for certain
purposes’.100 They argue, ‘Most of us bear scholarly signatures that are simultaneously north and
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south. Our critical edges are honed, not from single placements but from multiple displacements,
multiple focal lengths, multiple interpellations, multiple movements both away and towards’.101
They firmly believe that the line between north and south is endemically unstable, porous, bro-
ken, and often illegible. They state, ‘It is not difficult to show that there is much south in the North,
much north in the South, and more of both to come in the future’.102 This point is crucial, because
it is about the nature of imagination, rather than geography per se. It buttresses the point that you
don’t have to be located in the Global North or South, because both reside in you. The Comaroffs
bring attention to the taken-for-granted reality that all scholars are objects of hybrid subjectivity,
which derives from multiple registers of cultures from the Global North and South.
These directives are crucial to the affirmation of theor y of the south; however, these endeavours
should not ignore that writing itself occurs in spaces of uneven development. Theory is also pro-
duced by scholars who are often marked by location, positionality and representation, not to men-
tion personal and collective histories and geographies that are contested. Theorising is particularly
concerning in the developing world and in South Africa in particular, where issues of redress are
confounded with the parameters of race, gender, ethnicity and class of the writer.
Notes and References
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4 Foucault, M., 1973. The Order of Things, New York:Vintage B ooks, p.378.
5 Miller, C.L., 1985. Blank Darknes s: African Discourse in French. Chicago: University of Chica go Press.
6 Diawara, M., 1988. The O ther(‘s) Archivis t - Blank Darknes s: Africanist Dis course in French by Chr istopher L. Miller. Diacritics, 18(1), pp.66-74,
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7 Falola, T., 2001. Nationalism and African Intellectuals, Rochester: The University of Rochester Press, p.7.
8 Kumar, A. and Welz, F., 2003. Approaching Cultural Ch ange in the Era of Globalisation: An Inter view with T.K. Oommen. Social Identities, 9(1),
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9 Trevor-Roper, H., 1969. The Past and Present: H istor y and Sociology. The A nnual Conference of the Past and Present Societ y, 9-10 July, 1969,
Corpus Christi College, Oxford. p.6.
10 Ib id.
11 Mbembe, A., 2012. “Theor y from the Antipodes: Notes on Jean and John Comaroffs’ TFS”. Fieldsights - Theorizing the Contemporary, Cultur al
Anthropology Online, February 25, 2012, Available at http://www.culanth.org/fieldsights/272-theory-from-the-antipodes-notes-on-jean-john-
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12 Miller, C.L., 1985. Blank Darkness: African Discours e in French. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
13 Ibid.
14 Ndlovu- Gatsheni, S. J., 2013. Coloniality of Power in Postcolonial Afr ica: Myt hs of Decolonization. DAK AR: Council for th e Development of Social
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15 Ucelli, J. and O’Neil, D., 1992. Challenging Eurocentrism. In Forward Motion. 11(1), March 1992, p.35.
16 Carruthers, J.H., 1996. The Invention of Africa and Intellectual Neo-colonialism, p.6. Available at http://africawithin.com/carruthers/inven-
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17 Fanon, F., 1961. The Wretched of the Earth. London: Mcgibbon and Kee, p.67.
18 Lander, E., 2002. Ciencias sociales: s aberes coloniales y eurocéntricos. Colonialidad del saber: eurocentrismo y ciencias sociales. Perspectivas
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19 Ndlovu- Gatsheni, 2013, p.56.
20 Mignolo, W. D., 2006. Citizenship, knowledge and the limits of humanit y. American Literar y History, 18(2), March, p.313.
21 Iweriebor, E.E.G., 2011. The Colonization of Af rica. Af rica Ag e: African and African Diasporan Transformation in the 20 th Century. Available at
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24 Smyth, R ., 2004. The Roots of Community Development in Colonial Of fice Policy and Practice in Africa. Social Policy and Administration, 38, No.4,
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29 Hardt, M. and Negri, A., 2009. Commonwealth. Cambrid ge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, p.103.
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31 Silva, C. N., 2015. Urban Planning in Sub-S aharan Africa: Colonial and Pos t-Colonial Planning Cultures, New York: Routledge.
32 Jenkins, P., Smith, H. and Wang, Y., 2007. Planning and Housing in the Rapidly Urb anizing World. New York: Routledge.; El-Shakhs, S., 1997.
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33 Ramoupi, N. L.L., 2011. Deconstruc ting Eurocentric Education: A Comparative Study of Teaching Africa-centred Curriculum at the Universit y of Cape
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34 Sihlongonyane, M.F., 2015. Empty Signifiers of Transformation in Par ticipatory Planning and the Marginalization of Black People in S outh Africa,
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35 Irving, A., 1993. The Modern/ Postmodern Divide and Urban Planning. The University of Toronto Quar terly, 62(4), Summer, p.475.
36 Brewer, J.D., 1982. Racial Politics and Nationalism: The Case of South Africa. Sociology, 16(3), August.
37 Bickford-Smith, V., 2008. Ur ban history in th e new South Africa: continuit y and innovation since the end of apartheid. Urban History, 35(2), August,
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38 Maylam, P., 1995. Explainin g the apar theid city: 20 ye ars of South African urban histor iography. Journal of Southern Af rican Studies, 21(1), March.
39 Parnell, S. and Mabin, A ., 1995. Rethinking urban South Afr ica. Journal of Southern African Studies, 21(1), March.
40 Parnell, S., 1997. South African Cities: Perspectives from the Ivory Tower of Urban Studies. Urban Studies, 34(5-6), M ay, p.903.
41 See Bickford- Smith, V., 2008. Urban histor y in the new S outh Africa: continuity and innovation since the end of apar theid. Urban History, 35(2),
August 2008.
42 Comarof f, J. and J. Comaroff., 2012. Theor y from the South: Or, How Euro-America is Evolving toward Africa. Boulder, CO: Paradigm, p.1.
43 Haberman, M., 2000. Urb an schools: Day camps or custodial center s? Phi Delta Kappan, 82(2), Novemb er 200 0, p.203.
44 Seekings, J., and Keil, R., 2009. The International Jour nal of Urban and Regional Research: An editorial statement, International Journal of Urban
and Regional Research, 33(2), June 2009.
45 Parnell, S and J. Robinson., 2012. (Re)Theorizing cities f rom the global south: Looking b eyond neoliberalism. Urban Geography, 33(4). 2012,
p.603.
46 Foster, M., 1999. Race, class, and gender in education research: Surveying the political terrain. Educational Policy, 13(1/2), January 1999.
47 Milner I V, H.R., 2007. Race, Culture, and Researcher Positionality: Working Through Dangers Seen, Unse en, and Unforeseen. Educational
Researcher, 36(7), October 2007.
48 Castago, A. E., 200 8. “I Don’t Want to Hear That”: Legitimising Whiteness thourgh Silence in Schools. A nthropology and Education Quarterly, 39(3),
September 2008, p.320.
49 See World Bank 1986. World B ank Financing Adjus tment with Growth in Sub- Saharan Africa, 1986–1990. World Bank, Washington, DC.
50 Peet , R., 2002. Ideology, Discour se, and the G eography of Hegemony: From Socialist to Neoliberal Development in Postapar theid South Af rica.
Antipode, 34(1), Januar y 200 2.
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51 Brenner, N. and Theodore, N., 2002. Cities and the geography of actually existing neoliberalism, Antipode, Vol. 34, December 2002; Harvey. D.,
2007. Neoliberalism and the city, Studies in Social Justice, 1(1), Winter 2007, pp.2-13; Sassen, S., 2001. The global city. New York, London, Tokyo:
Princeton Univer sity Press; Smith, N., 1996. The New Urb an Frontier: Gentr ification and the Revanchist City. London: Routle dge.
52 Peck, J. and Tickell, A., 2002. Neoliberalising S pace, Antipode, 34(3), December 2002.
53 Perera, N. 1999. Decolonizing Ceylon: Colonialism, Nationalism and the Politics of Space in Sri L anka, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
54 Yeung, H. W. and Olds, K ., 2001. From the global city to globalising cities: Views from a developmental cit y-state in Pacific A sia. Paper presented
at the World Forum on Habitat-International Conferen ce on Urbanizing Wor ld and UN Human Habitat II, Columbia University, New York City, June
4-6.
55 Robinson, J., 2006. Or dinary Cities: Between Moder nity an d Develop ment. London: Routle dge.
56 See also Rao, V., 2006. Slum as t heor y: the South/Asian city and globalisation. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 30(1), March
2006.
57 Schuer mans, N., 2009. J. Robinson, Or dinary cities: Between Moder nity an d Development. Belgeo [En ligne], 1 | 200 9, mis en ligne le 19 mai
2013, consulté le 25 juin 2015. Available at: ht tp://belgeo.revues.org/8184, [Accessed 18 Augus t 2015].
58 Ibid.
59 Murray, M. J., 2013. Commemorating and for getting: challen ges for the new South Africa. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.
60 Mbembe, A ., 2010. Africa in Theory: A conversation between J ean Comaroff and Achille Mbembe. Anthropological Quarterly, 83(3), Summer
2010.
61 See Walsh, S., 2013. ‘We won’t move’. City: analysis of urban trends, culture, t heory, policy, action, 17(3), June 2013.
62 Thompson, G.F., 2003. Globalisation as the Total Commercialisation of Politics? New Political Economy, 8(3), Novembe r 2003.
63 Trevor-Roper, 1969, p.6.
64 Possami, A., 2002. Cultural Consumption of History and Popular Culture in Alternative Spiritualities. Jour nal of Consumer Culture. 2(2), July 20 02.
65 Archar ya, A. and Barr y, B., 2007. Non-Wester n International Relations theor y: Persp ective on and Beyond Asia. New York: Routledge Publisher s.
66 Grosfo guel, R., 2011. Decolonizing Post-Colonial Studies and Paradigms of Political-Economy: Transmodernit y, Decolonial Thinking, and Global
Coloniality. TRANSMODERNITY: Journal of Peripheral Cultural Production of the Luso-Hispanic World, School of Social Sciences, Humanities, and
Arts, 1(1).
67 O’Shaughnessy, E., 2008. African urban discourse: invisible and reflexive practice in African cities. Postamble, 4(2), 2008, p.5.
68 Mbembe, A. 2010. Africa in Theor y: A conversation betwe en Jean Comarof f and Achille Mbemb e. Anthropological Quar terly, 82(3), Summer
2010.
69 Ibid.
70 Mbembe, A. and Nuttall, S., 20 04 (eds.). Johannesburg: The Elusive Metropolis. D urham: Duke University Press, p.348.
71 Ibi d.
72 Mungwini, P., 2013. African modernities and the critical reappropriation of indigenous knowledges: Towards a polycentric global epistemology.
International Journal of African Renaissance Studies, 8(1), Online Oc tober, 2013, p.91.
73 Maffie, J., 2009. In the end, we have the Gatling gun, and they have not: Future prospects of indigenous knowledges. Futures, 41(1), Februar y
20 09, p. 61.
74 Ibid. Mun gwini, 2013, p.91.
75 Ibid.
76 Nicolescu, B., 2002. Manifesto of transdisciplinarity. New York: SUNY.
77 Makgoba, M.W., 1997. Mokoko, the Makgoba affair: A reflection on transformation. Florid a Hills: Vivlia Publishers and B ooksellers, p.205.
78 Mignolo, W.D., 2009. Epistemic disobedience, Independent thought and de-colonial freedom. Theory, Culture and Society, 26(7-8), December
20 0 9, p. 7.
79 Ibid.
80 Robinson, 2006.
81 Ib id .
82 Robinson, 2006, p.168.
83 Obarr io, J., 2012. Theory from the South. Fieldsights - Theorizing the Contemporar y, Cultural A nthropology Online, February 24, 2012. Available
at http://www.culanth.org/fieldsights/268-theory-from-the-south, [Accessed 10 July 2015].
84 Parnell, S and Robinson, J., 2012. (Re)Theorizing cities from the global south: Looking beyond neoliberalism. Urban Geography, 33(4), 2012.
85 Ibid.
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86 Robinson, J., 2013. The urban now: Theorising cities beyond the new. European J ournal of Cult ural Studies, 16(6), 2013, p.666.
87 Robinson, J., 2013, p.671.
88 Ngugi, W.T., 2009. Something Torn and New: An African Renaissance. New York, NY: Basic Civitas Books, p.89.
89 Mungwini, P., 2013. African modernities and the critical reappropriation of indigenous knowledges: Towards a polycentric global epistemology.
International Journal of African Renaissance Studies - M ulti-, Inter- and Transdisciplinarity, 8(1), 2013.
90 Ferguson, J., 1999. Expectations of Modernit y: Myths and Meanings of Urban Life on the Zambian Copper belt. Berkeley: University of California
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91 Enwezor, O. et al., (eds.), 20 04. Under Siege: Four A frican Cities: Freetown, Johannesburg, Kinshasa, Lagos. Ostfildern-Ruit: Dokumenta
11_Plat form4, Hatje Cantz; Huys sen, A., (ed.), 2010. Other Cities, Other Wor lds: Urb an Imaginaries in a G lobalizing Age. Durham: Duke
University Pre ss; Meyer s, G., 2011. African Cities: Alternative Visions of Urban Theory and Practice. London: Zed Books; Robinson, J., 2006. op.
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92 Simone, A ., 2004. For the city yet to come: Changing Afr ican life in four cities. Durham and London: Duke Univer sity Pr ess; Simone, A., 2010. City
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93 Bayat, A ., 2000. From Dangerous Classes to Quiet Rebels. Politics of Urban Sub altern in the Glob al South. International Sociology, 15(3),
September 2000.
94 Roy, A., 2005. Urban informality: towards an epistemology of planning. Journal of the American Planning A ssociation, 71(2), Spring 2005.
95 Roy, A., 2008. The 21st-Century M etropolis: New Geographies of Theory. Regional Studies, 43(6), July 2009.
96 Ibid. Comaroff and Comarof f, 2012.
97 Ibid.
98 Zeiderman, A., 2008. Cities of the future?: megacities and the space/time of urb an moder nity. Critical planning, Summer 2012, p.23.
99 Ibid. p.23.
100 Ibid. Comarof f and Comaroff, 2012.
101 Ib id .
102 I bid.
... The separation between the Global North and Global South is generally based on the socioeconomic factors of economic considerations and human and scientific development [10]. European countries (Global North) colonialized countries of the Global South (the Americas, Africa, Asia and the Middle East) from about the fifteenth century [23], leaving these countries to be historical disadvantaged [38] with no philosophical records during the pre-colonial times [41]. The colonializing country often used city planning in the colonized country for their economic advantage and urbanization occurred in the Global South in the absence of industrialization (unlike that in the Global North) [23]. ...
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In recent decades there has been an increasing strive towards broader sustainable planning practices. A wide range of literature suggests that nature-based solutions (including Green Infrastructure planning) may lead towards socioeconomically and environmentally sustainable urban communities. Such research is however mainly based on practices from the Global North with very little reference to the Global South. This study argues that there is a need for Global North knowledge to be translated to Global South context, and interpreted within this unique environment, acknowledging historical and cultural differences between Global North and Global South, and ultimately providing unique solutions for the unique urban reality. This research primarily focuses on nature-based solutions for sustainable urban communities and considers a broad literature review on Global North knowledge regarding such, substantiated by an analysis of purposefully selected case studies. The investigation identifies best practices which could be translated and place such in the context of current Global South perspectives.
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The research, theoretical, philosophical and reflective writing in this book explores, cites and positions with a multitude of decolonial theorists from across the world. This particularly with seminal indigenous and Global South writers including Fanon (1967), Freire, (1970), N’gugi Wa Thiong’o (1986), Spivak (1999), Gatsheni (2013), Mignolo (2018) [this list is not exhaustive]. It is a fusion of these international perspectives that this book applies as a conceptual framework in examination of decolonial work in education and curriculum knowledge, giving international insight and understanding from a unique range of historical, social, political and cultural contexts including: The UK, Nepal, South Africa, Namibia, Australia, Colombia, Canada, Thailand, Mauritius, Poland, Russia, Norway, and The Netherlands. This book provides unique possibilities for comparative education.
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The utility of crowdfunding in promoting sustainable development is beyond doubt due to its popularity in the Global North. The application of this concept in the Global South, especially in Africa, is illunderstood and questionable considering the high levels of corruption, poverty, and poor governance. Applying the concept of crowdfunding in Africa then becomes problematic. The chapter aims to undertake a critical analysis of the concept of crowdfunding and its sustainability in advancing the success of urban-based projects in African cities. What can (or should) be the defining pillars for sustainable and inclusive crowdfunding? What are the known (or even unknown) limits and prospects to initiatives like crowdfunding? What are the answers to the colonial legacy derived scepticisms about self-worth and context? What options do the African cities have? The chapter engages a mix of methodologies including literature review, document review, and case studies. Thematic content analysis is applied in building up the discourse. From the study, five critical observations emerge.
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